The End of the Beginning

Today is the final day of SOLC. I was hesitant to begin and here I am finishing! But it is not the end. It is only the beginning. The beginning of the joy I have found in writing regularly. In finding value in gaining feedback. In rejoicing in the words of others. 

I look forward to continuing the celebration of the written word that I have taken part in. Thank you SOL writers for taking me in and helping me find my voice in your community.

Laundry Day

I love doing laundry. There is an orderliness that I embrace. Sorting the laundry into colors, whites, permanent press. Choosing just the right temperature and cycle. Drying for the proper amount of time. Wool dryer balls!

Folding clothes is an art form. Shirts are folded to minimize wrinkling for storage. Socks matched, their tops rolled. Sheets reduced to small squares able to store on linen closet shelves.

Stains removed, dirt washed away. Renewed. Restored.

Book bowl

Cover to cover
Fourteen books carefully read
May best readers win!

A haiku to our Book Bowl readers who tomorrow, will meet their competitors as they answer questions about each of fourteen books read. Class by class, question by question, students will test their reading comprehension and author knowledge as they finish the brackets of their own form of March Madness.

I don’t know who started the reading craze at our school or exactly when it began years ago, but fifth and sixth graders have been in a reading frenzy for the last nine weeks, devouring the book list page by page, word by word.

Tomorrow, the ultimate class of readers will win the coveted Book Bowl trophy and hold the honor of Book Bowl Champions 2016.

Good luck to my team! May the Book Bowl games begin!

Barbie’s In the House

I recently came upon a plastic tub of Barbie dolls that belongs to one of my daughters. Not just a couple of Barbie dolls, but Barbie dolls times ten! In every hair and skin shade. And Kens. And Skippers. And little sisters and brother dolls whose names I have long forgotten. A red Barbie convertible. Is it wrong that a doll drives a nicer car than I do? Clothes. Shoes. Oh, the shoes! My daughter had a small obsession with Barbie.

She and one of her friends played with these dolls regularly even in to middle school. Secret playdates hidden behind bedroom doors. What would adolescent minds think of such “foolishness?”

What played out in the scenes of Barbie and Midge and Ken. Dating and marriages? Child-rearing and career planning? Middle school versions of earlier childhood imaginations?

Barbie did not lose her appeal as the middle schooler became the high school photography student. Barbie became the model, playing out scenes as a waitress holding a tray of plastic “glasses” and plates. Wearing a wedding dress. Waving, as she seemingly raced by in that enviable red convertible. Her hair could be imagined flying in the breeze.

But now, Barbie and her friends are relegated to life in a plastic tub, their eyes longing. To be released. To once again feel the freedom of life in the hands of little girls and their imaginations.

The red convertible is gassed and ready.

Quincy

We are a family of animal lovers. Well, my husband is by default. He married an animal lover. As such, we have had a variety of pets over the years. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, gerbils, parakeets, turtles, a horse. All well-loved and in return, we have been loved well.

The dog who is now part of our two and four-legged family is Quincy, a big black Labrador retriever mix. My son and I saw him at an adoption event nine years ago at PetSmart. Eight months old at the time, he lay in a crate seemingly overlooked by most passersby. We spotted him peering at us, eyes the color of acorns, unassuming. Yet something about him made us stop and take a closer look. He was part of a group of dogs at a local animal shelter scheduled to be euthanized. I have never understood how a beautiful puppy could have ended up in such a predicament. But fate works in mysterious ways and he was destined for better things.

All these years later, as he enters his senior years, he is still a special dog to us, having almost filled an empty place left by our other dog. He has seen our children reach adulthood and leave the nest, bring home spouses and now their children. It is with the babies that we see what a special dog he really is. Like most retrievers, he is very much a family dog. Although he was not around our kids when they were young nor had experience with toddlers, he seems to sense that they are different.

He shows unending patience with my two year old grandson, who likes to lean his head on Quincy and run his fur between his fingers when he is tired. It is quite heartwarming to see them together.

As our family continues to grow, Quincy is adjusting to each addition. We in turn, are helping our grandchildren to treat Quincy with love and respect as he grows older, right beside them.

Goodnight Pippen

My cat is curled up next to me as I write my entry. It is late and he is patiently awaiting my departure from the family room to go to bed. He likes to have his head rubbed. He enjoys a good scratch of his tummy.

I often refer to him as “the pest.” If I don’t rub his head or scratch his tummy, he will butt my arm with his head, purring loudly. At bedtime, he likes to crawl under the bedsheets. If I don’t allow him to go under the covers, he will lay on my head. He usually does these things at the most inopertune times,z and then it is annoying.

Although he is a pest of sorts, he also is sweet. He is there waiting for me when I get home and he will often follow me around the house. When I am getting ready in the morning, he sits on the counter, watching my every move. He stares at me intently, studying the way I fix my hair and apply my make-up.

As I finish this entry, I will get ready to call it a night. He will follow me upstairs waiting at the end of my bed. I will pretend to be asleep before he sidles over to me. He will gently pat my face and as much as I find him a pest, I will give in to his need to curl up beside me. Good night my sweet kitty.

Little pink house

My childhood home was my dad’s castle. He took pride in its upkeep. Being very handy, he always had some project or other in progress. The yard was one area that was under constant transformation. He added a patio and sidewalks to the back of the house (not all homes had these). When he was done, we were allowed press our feet into the still-wet concrete and write our names with a stick.

He erected a privacy fence on the side of the patio facing the road so when we sat at the handmade picnic table to eat, kids playing in the field next to our house could not stare as we ate.

Dad took special pride in the trees and rose bushes he planted and treated more lovingly then he sometimes did his family. The grass was regularly fertilized and mowed.

The house was regularly painted, old paint chipped away and new paint carefully applied. From all appearances, this was a home to be proud of and most likely, one might think, the family inside was also as carefully groomed and well-loved.

We were taught to say “yes ma’am” and “no sir,” to eat with our mouths closed, and do as we were told. We were given chores to do to teach us responsibility. But the effort that Dad took to assure his home was pristine and a showplace could not always be duplicated with his family. It was not that an effort wasn’t made by my mother.

As much as my dad wanted us to be the perfect family, we could not live up to his unspoken expectations. We sometimes lied, we missed bedtimes, we forgot to do chores. We were normal kids who sometimes screwed up. And although I knew in my heart my dad loved me, he had a hard time showing it.

It wasn’t until later in life, as we grew into adulthood, that Dad softened and was able to fully show his love. He was proud of the adults we had become and was the first to give praise for accomplishments. Perhaps he wasn’t able to relate to children as easily as he could when we were older. It is hard to know.

My dad is gone now, and I think of him often. Having children of my own, I know parenting is a challenge and he did the best he knew. I try to focus on the good memories and know that I will always love you Dad.